by Rick Langenberg:
Manitou Springs may feature the first recreational marijuana shop in the Pikes Peak region within the next few weeks.
But if local voters this November vote to outlaw recreational pot sales, only medicinal marijuana would be permitted inside the doors of Maggie’s Farm, located just outside the historic district.
Closely watching this drama are officials from Colorado Springs and municipalities in Teller County, who have banned recreational pot outlets, despite the massive amount of tax revenue these sales could net for these communities and the voter support for Amendment 64 (the pro-recreational marijuana law).
The clerk’s office of Manitou Springs has determined that a petition prohibiting retail marijuana sales within the city limits, filed by a group of business owners concerned about a threat to Manitou’s tourist and family-oriented image, has generated more than enough signatures to force a ballot question on the November 4 ballot. The petitioners turned in 465 valid signatures. Only 275 autographs from registered voters were required to snag a spot on the ballot.
According to Mayor Marc Snyder, if the majority of voters support the ballot proposition, then all the work the council has done to prepare for the possibility of two recreational cannabis shops outside the historic district would be nullified. This could also jeopardize the prospects of operational businesses. The council recently voted against the marijuana sales proposition, forcing the issue to be voted on during theNov. 4 election.
Maggie’s Farm is expected to open a dual recreational and medicinal pot shop within the next few weeks. And the city council has already given the green light for another recreational marijuana outlet, Reserv1, which will be located at 27 Manitou Avenue. Reserve1 currently operates a medicinal marijuana shop in another part of town.
But some business owners, who are part of a grassroots effort to prohibit marijuana retail sales, contend the town’s image is at stake. They are also worried about an invasion of pot-consumers, when the doors are open to recreational reefer outlets on a limited basis. Unlike Denver, Pueblo and many resort towns, no recreational marijuana outlets are available in the Pikes Peak region. This has prompted concerns about traffic problems and huge lines of people who aren’t really part of the visitor demographics Manitou Springs is trying to attract.
The petition group, though, will have to convince a Manitou Springs electorate that has heavily supported Amendment 64, the pro-recreational pot law approved by Colorado voters in 2013. In addition, Manitou Springs is still regarded by many as a “hippie town,” with ties to the pro-marijuana movement of the late 1960s and early 1970s.
In Colorado Springs, the city council delayed putting an issue to the voters that would let the citizens determine the fate of recreational marijuana sales in their community. A group called “Every Vote Counts,” wanted to let voters decide whether the town’s plethora of medicinal marijuana shops could be converted into retail pot outlets. But the council determined that doing this was too expensive. A vote, though, could occur next April. The Springs Council last year voted to prohibit retail marijuana sales, but only by a single tally.
Teller County elected leaders are still against opening the doors to recreational pot shops. Officials have declared that recreational marijuana outlets could financially hurt an area that must rely on many federal grants, and one that has strong military connections.
But with the bypassing of growing tax monies associated with retail marijuana sales, some are questioning this stand. Plus, many anti-pot prohibitions were approved by extremely close votes.
And while giving recreational pot sales the thumbs-down, the Teller County commissioners have heavily endorsed medicinal marijuana outlets, and amended its rules last spring. This would allow for the potential of a huge greenhouse expansion for probably the most publicized medical pot farm in the state, operated by the Stanley brothers. The only catch is, this extra space can only be used for growing and cultivating pot aimed at helping those who are experiencing problems with epileptic seizures, persistent headaches and other serious health ailments.
This type of marijuana, known as the Canabdiol product, doesn’t feature any THC, a component that produces the high associated with marijuana use.